The two most frightening things I've witnessed in the past few weeks: That scene in "Stranger Things 2" with the monster and the cat (you know the one), and watching Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers absolutely toy with teams in the 3-on-3 overtime.
In back-to-back games, they won basically on their own: Draisaitl with a brilliant pass to McDavid to beat the New York Islanders, and then 48 hours later it was McDavid to Draisaitl to beat the New Jersey Devils.
Unrestrained by systematic defenses, their skill takes over in the extra session. "That's the type of game that's being played in the NHL these days," said McDavid after the win over the Islanders. "It's good to get a win in the 3-on-3."
McDavid actually seems to skate faster in overtime than in the previous 60 minutes of regulation hockey. Against the Devils, he accelerated away from Nico Hischier like he had hit a power-up in Mario Kart. "Yeah, it's hard to catch up to that guy," said Draisaitl of McDavid, in an understatement.
The Oilers' young stars seemed unbeatable in 3-on-3, which the NHL adopted as an overtime format in 2015-16. In truth, they're just getting started: McDavid has skated 42:13 in 3-on-3 since 2015-16, with two goals and three assists. Draisaitl has skated 47:33 and has two goals and four assists.
Those are impressive numbers, but other players around the NHL have posted even more mind-blowing offensive stats when the action drops to 3-on-3 -- while other offensive dynamos have struggled with the blur of motion and end-to-end action that comes with it.
One big caveat: These numbers are for 3-on-3, and not just in overtime. But 3-on-3 in regulation is a fairly rare occurrence, so the majority of these points should be from OT.
Atkinson has four goals and three assists in 34:57 of 3-on-3 play over the past three seasons, all of them primary points -- goals or primary assists. That's a primary-points-per-60-minutes of 12.15 in the 3-on-3, which ranks in the top three for players with at least 30 minutes of 3-on-3 time. Better still: Atkinson has yet to be on the ice for a 3-on-3 goal against in the past three seasons. That's remarkable.
Carter is a 3-on-3 master. In 50:08, he has six goals (all in overtime), to lead all scorers, along with four assists. His nine primary points in the 3-on-3 is tied for the best in the NHL in the past three years. As you'll see, the Kings are really good in overtime. (Shoutout to Tanner Pearson, who has four goals and four assists in the 3-on-3 in 31:89, and is the beneficiary of Carter's mastery.)
Simply put: Gaudreau is the best 3-on-3 player in the NHL today. Johnny Hockey has four goals and seven assists for 11 points in 41:43, a league-best 15.93 points per 60 minutes for players with at least 30 minutes in the 3-on-3. He has been on the ice for 11 goals for and just one goal against, which is remarkable. In overtime, size matters not.
The Flyers, through every fault of their own, have played a ton of 3-on-3 hockey in the past three seasons. Luckily, they have a few players who excel at it, such as Shayne Gostisbehere (six points) and Jakub Voracek, who has four goals and five assists in 68:74 of 3-on-3, with all four goals coming in overtime. But Giroux gets the nod here because of his three goals and five assists in 66:09, and also because he has a Corsi differential of plus-36, which is second in the NHL during the past three years only to Jordan Staal's plus-39. (Staal, who has five points in 50:08, just missed the cut here.)
This should surprise no one. When you have opponents arguing over who has to cover the Swedish dynamo in overtime, you know he's dominant. Karlsson has played more minutes of 3-on-3 hockey (84:42) than anyone in the NHL over the past three seasons, producing two goals and five assists -- a 4.98 points-per-60 minutes average that ranks among the best for defensemen.
Anze Kopitar, C, Los Angeles Kings
As previously stated, the Kings are just really, really good in overtime. Not only thanks to Carter, but to Kopitar as well. In 60:33 minutes of 3-on-3, Kopitar has four OT goals and seven assists for a points-per-60 average of 10.94. He's a steadying presence in overtime, but it's also a place where his offensive creativity thrives.
The 3-on-3 just seems built for a guy like this, and Kuzy has met the expectations. He has two goals and five assists in 49:58, an 8.47 points-per-60 average. (Alex Ovechkin, if you're curious, has three goals and an assist in 38:24 of 3-on-3.)
When Malkin gets room to create, it's pretty much a sure thing offensively. In 30:43, he has two goals and four assists for six primary points, or an 11.83 points per 60. (Sidney Crosby, if you're curious, has three goals, three assists in 52:54 of 3-on-3.)
We're as surprised as you are. It's a small sample size (28:14), but Seabrook has one goal and six assists in the 3-on-3, better numbers than Duncan Keith (five assists in 39:41). He has only been on the ice for four goals against as well. Much credit to Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin for their assumed assistance, but points are points, even if only four of them were primary ones for Seabrook.
Here are the not-as-good.
Nicklas Backstrom, C, Capitals
Here's a weird one: Backstrom has just one goal in the 3-on-3 in 32:45, for a points-per-60-minutes average of 1.85. During that span, at 5-on-5? It's 2.10.
Brassard has played 45:21 in the 3-on-3 and has just one assist, meaning that his points per 60 in the 5-on-5 (1.61) is higher than that in the 3-on-3. He's also a minus-22 in Corsi differential in the 3-on-3, in the bottom 10 during the past three seasons.
Forsberg has put up small numbers in the 3-on-3, with a goal and an assist in 40:39. But the reason he lands here is that while he has been on the ice for two goals for -- and an NHL-worst 11 goals against in the 3-on-3.
The Ducks are, overall, a pretty underwhelming team in the 3-on-3. Fowler has played 43:26 and has never registered a point in the past three seasons. He has been on the ice for one goal for -- and nine against. Ouch.
One assumes Green would thrive in the open space of the 3-on-3, but maybe we're talking about the guy from seven years ago. This Mike Green has no points in 52:08, while giving up five goals.
It's a relatively small sample size (25:05), but the Wild star doesn't have a point in the 3-on-3 in the past three seasons.
Rask has two goals in 39:64. That's OK. Rask has been on the ice for 10 goals against and has a minus-24 Corsi differential in the 3-on-3. That's ... not OK.
This is a baffling one. Daniel has played 45:98 in the 3-on-3 and has mustered just two assists. Henrik has played 37:43 and has contributed two goals. Again, we understand age and all of that, but you'd figure the sonar these two have could have produced a few more goal-creating cycles.
John Tavares, C, Islanders
There are players who are much worse than Tavares in the 3-on-3. But the Islanders captain has generated a goal and three assists in 58:63 (4.09 points per 60) and has a negative Corsi differential of minus-32 in the 3-on-3, second worst in the NHL for the past three seasons. Still, he has been on the ice for only five goals against.
Henrik Zetterberg, C, Red Wings
In 55:95 of ice time, Zetterberg has just two secondary assists for a 2.14 points-per-60-minutes average. His points per 60 in 5-on-5 for the past three years is 1.71. Like his Swedish national teammates in Vancouver, had this been 2007 instead of 2017, we imagine it's a different story.
But it's a young man's game now, especially in the 3-on-3. Just ask Connor and Leon.